19 Comments

Hoodrats & Headwraps: The Romeo and Juliet of An Era

Hoodrat - Opinionated Male

“I’m such a fcuking lady”.

For those who enjoy pointing out the obvious, there will be sweeping generalizations, vacuuming assumptions, mopping presumptions and Swiffering aspersions made throughout this entire post.  A dichotomy that is both essential and non-essential to the overall premise. Enjoy with three grains of salt. 

As the world turns, and as we meander through the days of our lives, we observe relationships in action every single day. Many of our relationship observations (and observations in general) are cognitive. However, others are observed more passively. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that the majority of our observations in life are done passively. In other words, we don’t notice sh*t, but we really do notice sh*t…at least on a subconscious lev el.

For example, we passively observe the relationship birds have with breeze; honey with bees; and even you with deez. < –Sorry I couldn’t resist. But you get my point. However, that passive observation at some point becomes a conscious one. Usually in the form of a realization (the eureka moment) we have when some event or a separate observation triggers that connection. Such was the case with me one day while on my way to work when years of casual observation finally eureka’d its way into cognitive existence. You see, what was about to board the bus at the next stop was none other than….a hoodrat and her headwrap.

Its important to note that there was nothing particularly unusual about this woman. She was merely another representation of what I had seen many times over. But on that day, on that bus ride, at that moment, I found myself asking, “Since when did this sh*t become okay – to leave your home in sleepwear and peruse the streets without even combing your hair”?  Almost as quickly as that question materialized, the ‘eureka fairy’ hit me with this: why does it seem like it’s only a certain type of woman that does this – the hoodrat?

Now before we continue, for our purposes a ‘hoodrat’ does not mean an ignorant lascivious neighborhood bed wench, but rather an unapologetic socially liberated woman who does not subscribe to the subjugating outdated charm school etiquette, ideologies of class and social mores. Neither is she concerned with the silent opinions of others.

Moving on……

They say never to judge a book by its cover. Well, at the risk of seeming a bit on the bourgeois, pompous, and elitist side, experience and common sense has taught me (as well as you) all the wiser when encountering ducks. Is it judgmental to associate a complete stranger whom I’ve never seen in action with being a hoodrat because of something as simple as a headscarf? Yes. Yes it is.  Allow me to expound in 3…2…

I’ve encountered a variety of women ranging from all walks of life and experiences, with many of them growing up in or around urban environments. Regardless of their present station in life, the majority of these women are certainly not above sporting casual wear, sneakers, sweats and the like when in relaxed mode and running errands.  To no surprise, they are also proud owners of an array of headscarves. For our purposes today, this is where the obvious collective similarities end and a specific differences become apparent.

I came to realize that there is a faction of women that will not step beyond the threshold of their front door into public domain with their headscarf on (at least not in a manner that will allow them to be seen like that). For example, if they neglect their salon visits and aren’t pleased with their hairs current state, a hat of sorts would be worn to cover it while in public. If a hat is not available, the hair would be pulled back neatly in a ponytail. In the rare event a headscarf is actually needed, it’s completely concealed by a hat and out of view to passersby. Otherwise, their hair is usually worn out and in the open.

Which brings me to the other faction of headscarf owning women. For anyone who has had the visual privilege, there is no mistaking the hoodrat fashionista phenom. From bus rides, to train rides. From fast food joints to shopping malls, I’m sure many can attest to witnessing various instances of headscarf donning women going about their day. Whether they are overdue for a touch up or fresh out of the salon. Whether they are in jeans, sweats, or even colorful pajama bottoms, the headscarf is the common denominator among them all. It is the smoking gun. The tell tale sign that the silky soft satin material patterned with faux ‘Goochie Crouton’ designs, potentially sits atop an individual with trace elements of hoodrat sociology.

Now does this automatically mean that non-head scarf wearing women can’t be hoodrats? Of course not! That would be absurd. There are plenty of hoodrats who never wear headscarves in public. However, countless observations have shown that those who actually do wear headscarves proudly in public consistently possess some level of ratchet tendencies, whereas their ‘non-ratchet’ counterparts generally do not appear in public in similar manner. Which immediately begs the question why is this so? Why is the headscarf good for the goose but not the gander; and what does the willingness or unwillingness to don one publicly say about the individual?

Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, one thing is for sure: you will be hard pressed to deny the obvious and existing correlation between headscarves and hoodratchets.  Whatever that correlation means exactly, is up for debate. This is all in the name of science.

In short, the concern of exposing one’s hair to unfavorable weather conditions is legitimate and understandable. However, such a reason is only valid a small percentage of the time. Which leads me to question whether the public donning of scarves is actually about protecting the hair, or more of a subtle statement that says either these women don’t care enough about their own appearance to try, or the scarf represents a middle finger to the world and its  conventions of what it means to be a lady in public.

So readers, I now turn this over to you for your thoughts.

Is there a special bond between hoodrats and headscarves that the rest of this world is unaware of? Is it that much of an arduous chore to comb one’s hair out in the mornings as opposed to leaving it wrapped up?

Could one draw the conclusion that the women who do not wear headscarves in public take greater pride in their appearance and presentation? Or does it mean that these women probably care too much what the outside world thinks?

Is wearing a headscarf in public indicative of a lack of standards and personal care? Or does it mean that the wearer is liberated from society’s imposed definition of ‘lady in the streets’, and has defined it for herself?

Lastly, what does either decision say about either category of women?

**No hoodrats were harmed in the composition of this post. If you’re a hoodrat and are offended – good. If you’re not a hoodrat but find yourself feeling offended, well then its highly probable that you are in fact an actual hoodrat who has yet to make that cognitive observation. That is, until this very moment. Eureka? Hmmnn…. Eur’welcome.

- Mr SoBo

19 comments on “Hoodrats & Headwraps: The Romeo and Juliet of An Era

  1. JMHO- Things you put on to go to sleep shouldn’t be worn in public. Head wraps and do-rags are no bueno! Add to the list: leaving the house with hair wrapped and bobby pinned to the high heavens…Really?!

    It doesn’t mean the person is a hoodrat but it causes me to pause every time I see someone out and about like they jumped out of bed and left the house.

    Lack of standards- eh, I can’t hold people up to what I deem proper. They have their own beliefs.

    • @Crayolagirl I’m glad you mentioned du rags, because the same principle and questions apply to the men as well. We are certainly no exception to this phenomenon, but to spare readers the agony of a rather lengthy post, I had to make some chops. I will amend my questioning to include one directed at the males as well.

      To your point, interestingly enough, the du rags have somehow made its way into becoming an ‘arguably legitimate’ urban fashion accessory for certain men as they are often color coordinated to other articles of clothing and footwear. Much like the women, there are factions of men who will and will not wear them publicly. In the end, it is technically sleepwear.

      Needless to say, women do have legitimate fashionable headwraps and head dresses that are designed specifically for outerwear. Yet for some reason or another, that is not the choice among those notorious for wearing the more ‘homelier nocturnal’ versions despite the functionality being exactly the same, sans the style. But alas, to each his/her own indeed.

      • Yes, there are legitimate fashionable head wraps and I have no problem with them. And it’s very easy to identify fashionable vs sleepwear head wrap.

  2. I’m a female that lives in NYC and after reading this, it made me curious about where the author was living. For me urban fashion has changed, women rock head scarves as an accessory and yes of course some use it a means to conceal their hair while running errands and so forth.

    The article struck me as being ignorant and the author doesn’t seem like he was exposed to different urban areas. In NYC, there are some black women who have given up salon visits and are appreciating their natural tresses. Which includes wearing head scarves that are fashionable. That eliminates the whole concealing of the hair when you are in between salon visits bc women are leaving the salons behind.

    This article also makes me think when black women who didn’t use a relaxer were considered ugly and thought of as not caring about their appearance. Times are changing as we are now
    Surrounded by images of natural women in the media.

    • Allow me to clarify to alleviate the misunderstanding.

      All headwraps are not created equal. This post is not in regard to cultural head dresses and fashionable headwraps designed for outer wear to compliment and beautify one’s appearance and ensemble. It is focused specifically on the head scarfs that are primarily purchased for the intent of nocturnal and home use (i.e., bonnets, scarves, du rags and the like). Basically anything one would sleep in and wear around the home to protect and preserve the life of the hair style. Nothing is wrong with either type. That said, the post is simply an observation piece on the commonality among those that deem it okay to wear the sleepwear scarves in public, and those that don’t…as well as trying to understand why. It’s not so much about hair, looks, or concepts of beauty, but more about the care and presentation of oneself publicly.

      Welcome to the OM.

  3. I agree with the post. As a woman of color, I feel bonnets are for the house. I do like fashionable head scarves, but hair wraps? Out in public? Nah, homey…

  4. A few thoughts…

    -Although I’ve never thought too closely about head wraps specifically, I understand where you’re coming from because I feel the same way when I see men sagging their pants. I’ve thought about WHY sagging pants bother me so much, especially when they don’t directly impact me. It comes down to feeling embarrassed by those who represent us as a people, yet don’t act or dress how we think they should act and dress. It’s about turning up your nose at those who are “low class” or “ghetto.” I mean, why can’t Negroes just act right, amirite? (sarcasm)

    -I don’t like the idea of attempting to shame people into conforming by trying to make them feel like “others” – especially when they’ve done nothing wrong. While I appreciate you trying to expand the definition of “hoodrat,” let’s be honest, most people think of a loud, uneducated, low-class woman with multiple babies. Instead of focusing on the head wrap though, I think it’s more productive to tackle the conditions that the scarf may represent – things like poverty, a lack of education, etc.

    -Finally, a lot of men are of the mindset that women dress a certain way, comb (or not) their hair a certain way, all for men’s pleasure. Please understand though, women are not here solely for your pleasure – visual or otherwise.

    • Hey there Aly. Thanks for stopping in.

      Firstly, there is a lot of projection going on in your comment. Like, a lot.
      I would like to know how being cognizant of obvious differences and pointing them out for the purposes of gaining understanding means that one is attempting to shame?
      Neither of the groups were presented to be in a more favorable light than the other. In fact, only the aesthetic dissimilarity (headwrap) and subcultural difference were highlighted to differentiate between the two groups and acknowledge where one occurrence is commonplace, and the other not so much. How is that shaming exactly?

      Secondly, because the term hoodrat conjures up unfavorable associations in your mind, that somehow means that I am the one implying that they are wrong and need to change? Hmmnn, thats quite an interesting leap there. That sounds more like you injecting your own personal bias and attempting to put it on me. No can do.

      I will, however, acknowledge that people generally associate certain images and behaviors (as you’ve described) with the term hoodrat. But my question to you is, are they wrong for that? And if so, then whose fault is it really? Is it the fault of the onlookers for observing the recognizable behavior and calling it by name, or is it the fault of the individual playing the part? Again, no condemnation, just observation. Rest assured, Hoodrats are not under attack, so the white knighting is both unnecessary and disingenuous. Especially if the headwrap fits.

      Lastly, the post itself wasn’t intended to save the world. Last I checked, hoodrats weren’t on any endangered species list. The post addressed exactly what it was intended to address. But I agree that there is ample room for discussion as the topic does present underlying issues worth delving into. And I’m glad you mentioned that because this exactly what the comment section is for. So have at it. Give it life. :-)

      Oh, and welcome to the OM.

      • Hey Sobo,

        Thanks for the welcome, I really like the site!

        You asked:
        “I would like to know how being cognizant of obvious differences and pointing them out for the purposes of gaining understanding means that one is attempting to shame?”

        Well, it’s because you called women who wear scarves “hoodrats,” which in and of itself is a term which has a negative connotation. You also questioned whether or not these women were acting “ladylike” and questioned their personal hygiene habits. All these things combined together put women who wear scarves in the category of “other”, and I believe it was an attempt to shame them into conforming to YOUR standards. You weren’t trying to “gain understanding.” You already claim to know why women wear head scarves in public and outlined these reasons in a very detailed way.

        “Secondly, because the term hoodrat conjures up unfavorable associations in your mind, that somehow means that I am the one implying that they are wrong and need to change?”

        The term hoodrat is negative in 99.9% of people’s minds, not just mine. Yes, I believe you are implying that women who wear scarves in public need to change.

        Let me ask you a question. How do head scarves in public affect you personally? In other words, why do you care so much? At least enough to write a lengthy post about it.

        • Okay, I had to reread the post because I’m confused as to where you are getting the majority of your conclusions from.

          Nowhere in the post did I ever “claim to know why women wear headscarves in public”, nor have I drawn any conclusions (good or bad) about it. Where are you getting this? Especially when the very questions I posed throughout the article speak to the contrary.

          “You also questioned whether or not these women were acting “ladylike” and questioned their personal hygiene habits.”

          Combing one’s hair is an act of grooming is it not? And it would be rather visibly apparent if someone did or didn’t. So what is so wrong with simply observing this, and why does it trouble you so – especially when no disparaging remarks were made in regards to it?

          “All these things combined together put women who wear scarves in the category of “other”, and I believe it was an attempt to shame them into conforming to YOUR standards.”

          Simply making an observation and a clear distinction is not indicative of condemnation or advocating conformity. It only says that one thing is not like the other. Or in this case, that one thing could quite possibly be like the other. And that is the source of your ire; not simply that it could be like the ‘other’, but because the ‘other’ in this case is not one of a perceived ‘flattering’ nature. In other words, had this post been about hairwrap wearers being synonymous with the likes of the Michelle Obamas of the world, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It wouldn’t be considered ‘shaming’ then. Funny how that works.

          And considering that Michelle holds the title of being The First Lady, is it at all surprising that none of her public appearances involves her wearing any of the hair wraps we KNOW she sleeps in at night? I’ll let you do the math.

          “The term hoodrat is negative in 99.9% of people’s minds, not just mine. Yes, I believe you are implying that women who wear scarves in public need to change.”

          Um no. We only agree that the term is negative in nature. Full stop. Just because something is deemed negative does not mean that it warrants correction. It can continue to exist as it is. Me associating the headscarf with known visible hoodrat aesthetics is simply that. Extracting an implication of ‘needing to change’, is telling of your own views and reveals your personal bias towards hoodrats. Perhaps it would benefit this discussion to examine why you carry such disdain for them so we can avoid further instances of you projecting those feelings unto me. Cuz I love hoodrats.

          “Let me ask you a question. How do head scarves in public affect you personally? In other words, why do you care so much? At least enough to write a lengthy post about it.”

          I have a better question. How does me writing about head scarves in public affect you personally? Why do you care so much? At least enough to leave comments about it? ;-)

          Honestly, the questions are answered in the post. You should read it some time. :-p
          Just messing with you. But for real, I thought you wanted to address the more ‘productive’ issues. What happened?

          • Lol. This is strangest discussion that I’ve had in a long time. Never in my life did I expect to be on the internet writing about the ins and outs of head wraps.

            Anyway, look Sobo, if you love hoodrats, so be it. If you don’t personally subscribe to what you’ve written here – head scarves = hoodrat = unladylike, again so be it. What really grinds my gears though is when black folks turn up their noses at stuff like this – head scarves, do rags, a certain style of dress. It’s an attempt to act like you’re somehow better than those black people. And yes, I’ve done it too. But, I’m also aware of the fact that I am doing it and then I realize that it’s pretty sh!tty.

            If we’re going to discuss so-called negative hoodrat behavior, I say we focus on something more substantial than a piece of fabric. That’s all I’m saying. Anyway, this has all been very interesting lol. Have a great rest of the weekend!

  5. good post, thought provoking indeed

  6. The head ties have nothing to with carelessly jumping out the house without grooming. In my experience it is the exact opposite, feeling self conscious or even ashamed (sadly) that if ones hair was not salon straight or flowing like Beyonce’s L’Oreal commercial it was unfit to be viewed by the public. To the non people of color textured hair that is combed may be considered unruly because it doesn’t lay flat. Today more women of color are accepting their texture and even “happy to be nappy”.

    • Excellent points. To the first part of your comment, wouldn’t wearing a more fashionable headscarf/wrap or even a hat accomplish the same thing? One wouldn’t take to the streets wearing a bathrobe or housecoat, so why a headscarf you sleep in?

      Thanks for commenting and Welcome to the OM.

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